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Rutgers students protest mandatory vaccination rule

Hundreds of students at a New Jersey university held a rally against its mandatory Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination rule. Rutgers University students and their parents gathered on May 21 to oppose the school’s vaccination requirement for face-to-face classes. This March, the university ordered that all students enrolled for in-person classes for the fall semester must get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Turning Point USA, Young Americans for Liberty and medical freedom advocacy group NJ Stands Up organized the May 21 protest. Some Republican state lawmakers who attended the rally proposed measures to fight forced vaccination and discriminations against unvaccinated Americans.

New Jersey GOP Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger warned the rally participants that every time authorities pull back some of their freedom, it is gone forever and they “will never get it back.” He added: “Allowing [authorities] to mandate vaccines to get into Rutgers … is a slippery slope. They’re going to keep moving the goalposts until they dictate every aspect of your life.”

GOP State Senator Michael Testa Jr. questioned the university’s order, saying: “How can they mandate students [to] get the vaccine, but not the faculty?” Rutgers’s March 21 order stated that faculty and staff members are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He then urged the participants to contact their legislators and “inundate their offices with letters [and] emails” on every single important issue – not just on the matter of mandatory inoculation.

Meanwhile, pastor and New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo said that he will rescind $1 billion allocated from Rutgers if elected. The GOP candidate added that unless the university drops its vaccine mandates and assures student liberty, he will make good with his promise. “I trust New Jersey residents, business owners and parents to make decisions for themselves with their [doctors] to keep themselves healthy. It’s not the government’s job to keep you healthy: [Its] job [is] to keep you free,” he added.

Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin told The Epoch Times in an email that its position on vaccines aligns with “the legal authority supporting this policy.” She added: “We are committed to creating a safe campus environment in fall 2021. [To] support the health and safety for all members of the Rutgers community, the university has updated existing immunization requirements for students to include the COVID-19 vaccine.”

However, the mandate also provided some exceptions. Students enrolled in fully remote online programs are not required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Rutgers mandate also allowed students to request for exemptions on medical or religious grounds.